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Divining the Past: The Canopic Jar Project is using genetics, chemistry and imaging to illuminate ancient Egyptian health and culture.

Author(s): Abigail Bouwman ; Michael Habicht ; Thomas Krämer ; Karl Link ; Frank Rühli

Year: 2016

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Summary

Whilst ancient Egyptian mummies have been the main focus of research for centuries, ancient Egyptian canopic jars, and their intestinal contents, have been widely neglected. The aim of the Canopic Jar Project is to establish novel research procedures and to examine a larger series of ancient Egyptian human soft tissues samples with a range of medical, genetic, chemical and Egyptological techniques. In the pilot phase of the project, canopics from different time periods were studied Egyptologically, radiologically (by portable X-ray, Examion PX 60 HF; or by computed tomography, Somatom Definition Flash), and by standard histological techniques such as Hematoxylin and Eosin or Masson-Goldner staining. Mitochondrial DNA consistent with a western Eurasian/northern-African maternal ancestry was successfully amplified, and real-time PCR amplification to assign sex using polymorphisms in the amelogenin genes have been undertaken. In addition, samples underwent high-throughput sequencing (Illumina HiSeq 2500 v4 sequencing). Some pathogenic species were found (e.g., MTBC and Leishmania infantum). Samples were also investigated by gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-high resolution mass spectrometry. The extracts from different canopics showed different chemical compositions, and different (methylated) fatty acids were also identified.

Here I shall present the data from the pilot study of this interdisciplinary project.


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Divining the Past: The Canopic Jar Project is using genetics, chemistry and imaging to illuminate ancient Egyptian health and culture.. Abigail Bouwman, Michael Habicht, Thomas Krämer, Karl Link, Frank Rühli. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404897)


Keywords

Geographic Keywords
AFRICA


Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America